The thought of Georgios Samaras leaving Celtic this month will make some Celtic fans very happy and relieved, but for others the thought of the big Greek leaving will make some fans disappointed.
Since arriving at Celtic in 2008 on a initial loan deal from Manchester City, Samaras has divided opinion between Celtic fans with his inconsistent performances and sometimes lazy attitude towards a game. His ability was never in doubt though when he decided to turn up to a game and perform, he is sometimes unstoppable with his forward running and pace.
I am of the opinion that Samaras is a key member of the current Celtic team and want him to stay at the club. Last season was the best I have ever witnessed Samaras perform, Neil Lennon got the best out of him during the Champions League campaign with him scoring in every single away game. He played best out on the left wing and was always a danger at set pieces. Last season he seemed to consistently have the ability to stretch games and go for a run down the wing when everyone else was tired and he would test the opposition. I think every Celtic fan would agree that playing Samaras upfront is a waste of time sometimes as he is no where near as effective as on the wing. It has taken time to realize this though as he did originally sign for Celtic as an out an out striker. He scored 14 goals last season which is his second best goal tally since being at Celtic and he was definitely a key factor in the Champions League run last season as he is often described as a “European Player” with his style of play. He often struggles to replicate his form in Europe back to the Scottish League though because of the tight pitches and the general tough tackling of the Scottish game. This is the cause of many frustrated Celtic fans when talking about Samaras, because how can a player go from having a good game against the likes of Barcelona to then struggling to even touch the ball against the likes of St Mirren, with all due respect to St Mirren.
Samaras’ contract runs out in July and although Celtic have offered him a contract, he is unsure where his future lies. He is 28 now and has won everything he can at Celtic and been to the last 16 of the Champions League twice with Celtic so what more can he possible achieve? I would not blame him for leaving, however I do want him to stay, I still think he has a lot to offer Celtic and I honestly cannot see him going to another club in the Champions League and getting the game time he does at Celtic so if he does want to leave Celtic, giving up Champions League football may have to be a reality for him.
The clubs reportedly in line for him are Atletico Madrid of Spain, Lazio of Italy, Hull City and Aston Villa of England and even Toronto FC of Canada who play in the MLS.
Realistically I could see Samaras going to either Hull City or Aston Villa in England. Hull are a real teamwork based side and play nice attacking football as seen by their thrashing of Fulham 6-0 so if played on the wing at Hull I could see him doing well down there and boosting their survival hopes in the Premier League. Aston Villa is also a good option for Samaras but Paul Lambert prefers to buy younger players for his side so I am not sure if he would buy a 28 year old Samaras but you never know,if he is available for cheap, Aston Villa may snap him up. Going to Athletico Madird would be a bad career move in my opinion, if he wants playing time I cannot see him getting that at arguably the third best team in Spain. Lazio could be a good move for him, a mid table Serie A team, new country, new league, it could be a good move for him. Finally, Toronto FC should not even be considered by Samaras unless he is finished with football in Europe altogether and does not want to win any more trophies because with no disrespect to Toronto FC, they do not look like winning the MLS anytime soon, and although the standard of football in the MLS may be higher than the Scottish Premiership, I think it is still a step down overall and at 28 years old, a move to the MLS is too early right now for him.
Samaras may not even leave Celtic and he might sign a new contract and I really hope he does because an on form Samaras is worth his weight in gold when playing in Europe and he is crucial to the development of this current team.